conceptual

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Art

Toothpicks and Found Objects Form Amorphous Sculptures by Chris Soal

October 20, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Lament (We thought the good times would never end) (2019), birch wood toothpicks, polyurethane sealant, ripstop fabric, board. 67 x 91 x 24 inches. All photographs by Matthew Bradley unless noted

South African artist Chris Soal combines concrete and other industrial materials with found objects such as toothpicks and bottle caps to create conceptual sculptures. Often set in contrasting textural elements, thousands of single-use objects take on a new identity and aesthetic as part of a collective. The works are a commentary on the destructive relationship humans have with nature while also reflecting notions of value and perception.

Birch wood toothpicks are held in place using polyurethane sealants on ripstop fabric and board. The toothpicks, some raw and others burnt, fill spaces in concrete slabs and appear to form soft dripping patterns as they snake down to the floor. The artist tells Colossal that his use of these “mundane everyday objects” began after he snapped a photo of some in a jar while having dinner. After initially dismissing the toothpicks as “stupid and worthless,” experimenting with them a couple years later changed how Soal perceived the material. “I was immediately amazed by how they transcend their appearance as hard and sharp objects to appearing soft and luscious when arranged in mass,” he says. “I then began to question the fact that I dismissed them upon first encounter, and the work led me to interrogate notions of value and perceptions through the works.”

Lament (We thought the good times would never end), detail

Soal says that growing up in Johannesburg has had an impact on his work. “It is a city in tension, and I think my work is often about locating oneself within that space, both as a response and a critique.” He doesn’t, however, see himself as the only force that determines how the three-dimensional sculptures are realized. “I am merely a facilitator of possibility for the works,” he explains. “I created the conditions for existence, and the material then morphs and develops as gravity and other forces move it to. As laborious, time-consuming pieces the process is also very contemplative and meditative, very much about a connection between my body and the object and how the shaping of form is related to touch.”

Alongside artist Michele Mathison, Chris Soal will be showing a new body of work at the Artissima art fair in Italy with WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery from October 31 through November 3, 2019. He is also preparing for a large project in Brussels in the near future. For a closer look at Soal’s sculptures, follow the artist on Instagram. (thx, Anna!)

Lament (We thought the good times would never end), detail

Climb into someone else’s skin and walk around in it (2018), toothpicks, polyurethane sealant, Milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme/”umbhobe” (zulu)) branches. Approximately 28 x 18 x 14 inches. Photograph: the artist

The Fourth Circle (The Demise of Frank Lucas) (2019), birch wood toothpicks, burnt and unburnt, polyurethane sealant, ripstop fabric, board. 75 x 57 x 12 inches

The Fourth Circle (The Demise of Frank Lucas), detail

In the face of overwhelming opposition (2019), concrete, and birch wood toothpicks, polyurethane adhesive, ripstop fabric. 34 x 35 x 3 inches. Private collection. Photograph: Mike Taylor

In the face of overwhelming opposition, detail

 

 



Art

Meteorological Data Visualized as Mixed Media Sculptures by Nathalie Miebach

May 26, 2019

Andrew LaSane

“Sibling Rivalry”

Boston-based conceptual artist Nathalie Miebach (previously) weaves colorful, complex sculptures using rope, wood, paper, fibers, and data from weather events. Two of the artist’s recent series explore the impact of storm waters on our lives and on marine ecosystems, with variables like wind and temperature (and the harmony of the composition) often informing the rainbow of colors used to translate the data into a three-dimensional structure.

The “Changing Waters” series uses data from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System (GoMOOS) buoys as well as from coastal weather stations to show relationships between weather patterns and changes in marine life. Similarly, the artist uses meteorological data from recent storms including Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Maria, and Hurricane Katrina to inform her “Floods” series, which looks at the events both from scientific and human experience narratives. Cut and woven elements are connected to form geometric shapes and patterns that are as layered and in flux as our understanding of the storms themselves.

“Retiring Bob”

Miebach tells Colossal that her exploration of the intersection of science and art began while taking continuing education astronomy courses at Harvard University and basket weaving courses at a nearby school. As a tactile learner, she found it easier to understand the abstract concepts and ideas of the former by using the latter. “I was lucky to have a very open-minded professor who accepted it without any questions. I’m not sure if it hadn’t been for his openness to this somewhat unconventional way of learning astronomy, if I would have continued.”

See Miebach’s work in two solo shows opening this fall, at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Texas and the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Her work will also be exhibited as a part of group shows at Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts at Florida Institute of Technology, at New Media Gallery in Vancouver, and at Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. Follow the artist on Instagram to see more of her sculptural work and for more details on upcoming exhibitions.

“Build Me a Platform, High in the Trees, so I May See the Waters”

“She’s Coming On Strong”

“The Burden of Every Drop”

“The Burden of Every Drop” (detail)

“Changing Waters”

“Changing Waters” (detail)

“Changing Waters” (detail)

 

 

 



Illustration

Conceptual Illustrations That Unveil Hidden Worlds by Andrea Ucini

July 24, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Self-taught Italian illustrator Andrea Ucini draws scenes which reveal hidden plot lines, adding a conceptual twist to his minimalistic imagery. Within Ucini’s illustrations one can sneak a peek behind the veil of a shadow or streetlamp, uncovering another world or just a curious rodent. In addition to working as an illustrator, Ucini also composes music and plays several instruments, a pastime that he sites as a strong influence for his illustrations which have been included in Wired, Scientific America, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. You can view more of the Denmark-based illustrator’s work on his InstagramBehance, and Anna Goodson Illustration Agency where he is currently represented.

 

 

 

 



Art Photography

New Conceptual Photographs Exhibit Brock Davis’ Perfect Sense of Visual Humor

March 24, 2016

Christopher Jobson

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Blackberry Poodle

We’ve long been fans of photographer Brock Davis‘ wonderful sense of humor exemplified by his Instagram feed chalk full of original internet memes like Rice Krispy Henge or the Gummi Bear Skin Rug. Since we last mentioned him here his photography caught the eye of Banksy who included numerous new works by Davis in his Dismaland exhibition last summer. When he’s not making art or delighting his legion of Instagram followers, he’s also the creative director at Minneapolis-based space150. After taking a bit of a creative break since the end of 2015 Davis recently started publishing new images, some of which are included here.

You can see more of his work on on his website, or hear him discuss how brands can best utilize Instagram in an episode of Facebook’s Pub in Pub series.

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Chopsticks

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Wishbone

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Matterhorn Tissue

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Toothpicks and soda cracker

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Burning building

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Hotel wall elephant

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Beard trimming panther

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High heel

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Cassette tape roller coaster

 

 



Art Photography

New Conceptual Self-Portraits Tap Into Photographer Kylli Sparre’s Fantastical Imagination

December 2, 2015

Kate Sierzputowski

Kylli_Sparre_Mutual_Forgetfulness-v

Tapping into unlived memories, Kylli Sparre (previously here and here) produces conceptual photographs that seem to be pulled from dark fairytales and otherworldly settings. The images are always focused on a lone woman in a dramatically staged pose, a reference to her past as a professionally trained ballet dancer. The environment surrounding the women is often hazy— barren landscapes that seem to isolate the women in both space and time.

Sparre’s work was featured at this year’s Art The Hague art fair in Amsterdam by Qlick Editions. You can see more of the Estonia-based artist’s thoughtfully composed images on her Facebook and portfolio site.

Kylli_Sparre_Steadiness_of_the_Flow

Kylli_Sparre_Speculation

Kylli_Sparre_fragile_flames-v

Kylli_Sparre_Allies-v

Kylli_Sparre_Tangibly_Imaginary-v

Kylli_Sparre_Symbiosis-v

 

 



Art Photography

The Wonderland Book: Photographer Kirsty Mitchell Honors Her Mother Through Lavish Conceptual Portraits

September 13, 2015

Christopher Jobson

24_She'll Wait For You In The Shadows Of Summer

Fine art photographer Kirsty Mitchell’s (previously) award-winning series of conceptual portraits titled Wonderland will soon be available as a book by the same name. Wonderland began as a small project in 2009 when Mitchell decided to explore childhood stories shared by her mother, an English teacher, who died from cancer several years earlier. Models dressed in lavish costumes were shot against natural settings like deeply wooded forests to evoke the elements of mystery and fantasy enjoyed by Mitchell’s mother. While portraits from the series are extremely detailed and vivid, they remain intentionally ambiguous enough for readers to project their own stories onto them.

The success of her first few photos drove the artwork into uncharted territory as the photoshoots grew into increasingly ornate endeavors where costumes and props for each image were sewn, painted, and assembled by hand, requiring up to five months of prep for a single shot. Mitchell recounts the series’ evolution in an essay on her website. The full collection of 74 storybook images will soon be available in an actual publication currently funding (with wild success) on Kickstarter.

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Gammelyns-Daughter-

5_Wonderland London show

21_The Stars Of Spring Will Carry You Home

23_The Fade Of Fallen Memories

1_Kirsty in Studio

 

 



Design Food Photography

A Variety of Unprocessed Foods Cut into Uncannily Precise 2.5cm Cubes by Lernert & Sander

May 13, 2015

Christopher Jobson

food-1

In 2014, Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant contacted conceptual design studio Lernert & Sander to create a piece for a special documentary photography issue about food. Lernert & Sander responded with this somewhat miraculous photo of 98 unprocessed foods cut into extremely precise 2.5cm cubes aligned on a staggered grid. Looking at the shot it seems practically impossible, but the studio confirms it is indeed the real thing. The photo is available as a limited edition print of 50 copies printed on 40 x 50cm baryta paper signed by the artists for about €500. You can learn more on their website. (via iGNANT)

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Sailing Ship Kite